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Multidisciplinary Approaches to Multilingualism

Proceedings from the CALS conference 2014

Edited By Kristina Cergol Kovačević and Sanda Lucija Udier

This volume offers a selection of twenty papers presented at the 28 th International Annual Conference of the Croatian Applied Linguistics Society held in 2014. The authors’ reflections on Multidisciplinary Approaches to Multilingualism fall into four different areas of investigation: 1) bilingual and multilingual studies focusing on research in foreign, second and lingua franca issues, 2) language policy and planning, 3) translation studies, lexis and lexical relations and 4) experimental research into language processing. The volume addresses an international audience and places a number of Croatian-based considerations onto the international applied linguistics scene.
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Subject pronoun interpretation in Croatian: Comparing monolinguals with simultaneous bilinguals

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Abstract

This paper reports the results of an experimental study into the interpretation of subject pronouns in ambiguous intra-sentential contexts in Croatian. Being a null-subject language (like Italian), Croatian allows subject pronouns to be either expressed (overt) or omitted (null). The use of these forms is regulated by discourse-pragmatic conditions. Two groups of 11-year-old children, Croatian-Italian simultaneous bilinguals and Croatian monolinguals, and a group of monolingual Croatian-speaking adults completed a picture selection task. Complex sentences contained an ambiguous null or overt subject pronoun in the subordinate clause, which followed the main clause. The participants were asked to choose between two pictures, thereby selecting the subject or the object of the main clause as the antecedent of the pronoun. The two groups of 11-year-olds did not differ in their antecedent selection for null and overt pronouns, but both differed from the adults in the overt pronoun condition, where they selected the subject antecedent more often than the adults. This suggests that Croatian-Italian simultaneous bilinguals do not lag behind Croatian monolinguals in the acquisition of the discourse-pragmatic constraints on the interpretation of Croatian subject pronouns in ambiguous intra-sentential contexts.

1 Introduction

For more than a decade there has been great interest in linguistic phenomena that require integration of different types of knowledge. Among these phenomena, the use and interpretation of subject pronouns in null-subject languages, requiring integration of syntactic and discourse-pragmatic knowledge, have received the greatest amount of attention. Null-subject languages (e.g. Croatian, Italian,...

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